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I Forge Iron


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Everything posted by nhblacksmith

  1. You might try the following two groups. I'm not sure of the age of your lathe but Vintage Machinery deals with the older stuff, mostly woodworking but parts suppliers or casting shops may be common to metal working as well. Practical Machinist has lots of brand specific lathe forums as well as general parts finding forums. I've belonged to both groups for a while and found them helpful on several occasions and their focus is more towards machinery rather than blacksmithing. http://www.practicalmachinist.com/ http://vintagemachinery.org/ Good luck finding what you need.
  2. I have two anvils in my shop, a 250# Kohlswa mounted on an 8 foot piece of 12" x 16" rock maple set 6' into the ground. This anvil is securely bolted to the wood with a piece of truck tire inner tube between the anvil and the wood. It is rock solid and whisper quiet. The second anvil is a 165# Kohlswa mounted on a steel base that I built. The base is a piece of 12" I-beam on end of the proper height with a rectangular base of 1/2" steel plate which is slightly larger that the I-beam and a top which is also plate but the size of the I-beam. I have a couple hardy racks welded to the side and a shelf welded between the flanges to the web. Two pieces of angle iron go over the base ends of the anvil and are bolted to the top plate. This anvil also has a piece of inner tube between the anvil and the steel plate and it is just as quiet as the wood mount. If you know Kohlswa anvils, you know that they ring like bells and would be impossible to work on for any length of time without dampening the sound. The smaller anvil can be slid around the forge area as needed or used as a portable for demonstrations by moving it with a two wheel dolly. When used outside, the plate base (as opposed to legs) keeps it from sinking into the ground when struck. Either anvil is more than solid enjough for work with a striker and a 20# sledge though we tend to use the permanently mounted one more for that. My shop has mostly a concrete floor but in the forge area I used dry-laid brick so I would have the option to sink an anvil stump and vise stand. I think either a wood or metal base is fine as long as the anvil is securely fastened to the base so they become as one and I find no real advantage or disadvantage to either. They both get used daily.
  3. The first thing you might do is to call your insurance agent, describe the situation, and ask him if they will still pay if you burn the house and garage down. I would also suggest a smoke detector that is tied in to your household smoke detectors so that if a piece of smoldering metal flares up in some sawdust up during the night, you will have time to get out safely. My shop is a separate dedicated building fifty feet from the house and I have the smoke detectors tied like that. I was a volunteer firefighter for more than 20 years and and have seen things far less risky that destroyed properties and killed the occupants. Most building codes require at the minimum a 5/8" sheetrock wall between a garage and an occupied dwelling. Hate to rain on your party but you are "playing with fire" (pun intended). Good luck.
  4. The link below has lots of info and photos on various vises and their maufacturers over the years including Parker with the author's take on the better choices. He favors Parkers over all others. There is also a link at that site to information on restoring old vises. I have used the info for reference many times. http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=62716
  5. Hardy and pritchel holes are handy but in a small anvil such as your they take up good forging area and may lighten and weaken the anvil because you will probably have to cut the web. An easy way out is to make a saddle with one or more drilled holes and a couple flanges to hold it in place on the anvil. That will work fine for backing up punches and short drifts. A hold down could be mounted on whatever base you make for the anvil and for a hardy holder, think about a securely mounted leg vise. A big advantage to a vise is that you don't have to be fussy about making sure your hardy tools are the same size or if they fit the hardy hole tightly-just tighten the vise. Even with two anvils, I often use the vice for holding certain hardies. For hot work I prefer the vise mounted with the top about waist high. Nice job on the railroad track anvil. It will get you started fine.
  6. I also saw this and recognized it as an unusal piece. I'm not into collecting tools I don't use so I notified an acquaintence in southeastern NH who collects vices and does period demonstrations. He was able to purchase it and the other tools that were part of the package. He had not seen that type either. It is definitely factory made and not modified.
  7. If you are inside a building, simply closing the doors and windows may help with outside noise. I run a 75# Reiter air hammer at 220 blows a minute and it is definitely obnoxious to anyone close by if the doors are open but with the doors shut it is barely discernible outside. It helps that my shop is well insulated. We live near a pumping station for a large gas and oil pipeline and the pumps were really loud even several hundred yards away. The owners put up some baffling and it cut the noise drastically. You might consider some portable baffles (similar to welding curtains) made from insulation board or perforated ceiling tile to absorb the sound, especially on the side toward your neighbor. It will be easier to fend off complaints if you have made an attemt to mitigate the noise ahead of time. Getting a permit for a home business and making it legal won't make it quieter.
  8. You might check out ABANA's website for local affiliate blacksmithing organizations Most groups have regular meets and maybe a newsletter where you could contact locals about your idea. Dues are usually inexpensive and it might pay to join and attend a function where you could present the proposition in person. The previous post suggested a good place to start.
  9. Growing up back in the 50's our family also used mutton tallow for years. We switched to Prid when we no longer could get the mutton tallow but I recently found it available again at Lee Valley (see link below)-$2.95 for a 1 oz. can. It will pull slivers from deep within and I use it a lot when I am sawing tamarack on my mill-those little slivers just plain hurt! http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=69309&cat=1,43415,43440
  10. If you can locate a copy of "Blacksmiths' and Farriers' Tools at Shelburne Museum" by H.R. Bradley Smith, it has an excellent chapter on the various tongs and their names and uses. This is a catalog of actual tools that were in use in the trade and collected and documented for the Shelburne Museum's shop in Shelburne, Vermont. There is a ton of information on tongs and other aspects of blacksmithing in the book. I believe it is long out of print but Amazon shows some used copies for $25. If you are in the area the museum is a great place to visit and learn. Further info at: http://shelburnemuseum.org/
  11. Exactly right, if you can't see it, you don't need to measure it!
  12. Lots of info at this link on another site: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-machinery-history/help-please-champion-blower-113740/
  13. I'm not sure of the availability but if you can find a copy of "The Art of Spark Testing" by Edsel E. Bishop and published in 1954 by Wyckoff Steel Company grab it, even if you have to mortage the wife. It comes with a red/green celophane viewer in a cardboard frame that you hold up to your eyes for viewing the 3D colored drawings contained in the book (like the old 3D movies in theatres) and it is the most thorough treatment of spark testing I've seen. There are many factors affecting the spark and as Frank Turley pointed out, it is important how you produce a spark for proper reading. Things like length and angle of the spark stream, type and frequency of bursts, distance at which the bursts occur from the wheel, color of the stream, the clarity of the carrier stream all give hints as to the parent material. Some trace elements make a stream lighter and some darker. In addition to a great explanation of spark testing and profuse examples, the book contains charts for nearly 100 varieties of steel, iron, and alloys with the characteristics particular to each in a spark test. I was very fortunate to obtain a copy many years ago from a salesman for Bethlehem Steel when he retired and gave me his library. Maybe somebody will reprint the book if there is enough demand. Neal
  14. Lee Valley cord identifiers work well too-under $8 for a package of ten. http://www.leevalley.com/US/hardware/page.aspx?p=68740&cat=3,43597,50658,68740
  15. Hi Mike, I have a shop in Lancaster, not far west of you. I have been smithing full time for almost 32 years and my daughter is now working with me with plans to take over full-time on my full retirement I do mostly commercial work for the precious metals refining industry and have a fully equipped shop. There are several of us in the area but we don't spend a lot of time on the net-too much real life stuff to do. Feel free to get in touch and stop by for a visit by appointment. I am not in the shop all the time so you would need to call ahead. Neal wells
  16. I think you are on the right track with your own ideas, poured concrete and a brick area combination. I've been forging full-time for 31 years and when I built my current 28 x 40 shop a little over twenty years ago I did exactly that and would do it again in a heartbeat. As you pointed out, concrete is hard on the legs but it is good, if not necessary, where you set up machinery like lathes, shapers, etc. The brick is much easier on the legs and feet, easy to pull up should you want to install new or move existing equipment, and it has the advantage of allowing water to drain when you need to cool iron for long twists in the vice. About the only disadvantage I see is that you should install a chunk of iron, say 12" x 12" or a bit larger into the brick somewhere so you can upset long pieces or on which to lay hot iron. It is dangerous to drop hot chunks of steel on either wood or concrete. If they are damp, the resulting steam may explode a chunk of floor. I have a 24" x 24" piece of steel 4" thick in the floor near one corner of the forging area. To lay the floor, I filled the area to be bricked with sand to a depth that when the brick was laid on top it would be even with the concrete in the rest of the shop. Lay it as tightly together as possible and then simply pour some sand over the top and fill the small cracks with a push broom. Over the years, the forging scale will mix with sand as you sweep it clean. If you take the time to level the sand before you start laying the brick, the resulting floor will be nearly as smooth as concrete and even small wheels will roll over it easily. My first shop had a dirt floor and it was horrible. It was difficult to locate small parts if you dropped them, impossible to keep clean and the dirtiest part of me after a day in the shop was my socks and ankles where the dirt and scale mix swirled around my feet with every step. I didn't have the option of concrete as that was a museum shop but I did convince them to let me lay dry brick. I believe the floor is still in use but now by a cooper instead of a blacksmith. Good luck with your project whichever way you decide to go.
  17. I have both a large Hossfeld and Diacro but if I were doing this operation, I would use slip rolls, especially for the relatively large diameter of a 55 gallon drum. Once the rolls are set, you could literally crank out dozens, if not hundreds per hour. You can even build the rolls if you don't have a set. they don't need to be fancy.
  18. Spark testing is much easier (and less destructive) than nicking and breaking the iron. You can even use a battery operated grinder to test pieces where they are found. Wrought iron will produce a fairly narrow stream of sparks, maybe 20 degrees give or take, with few forks, rare or no star bursts, and long trails. It will be reddish in color. Barely touch the wheel to the metal, hold a constant pressure near the edge of the disc and just look at the results. Low lighting works best. It is helpful to keep small pieces of known metals to use for comparison.
  19. Between a logger and a blacksmith it would be hard to tell which might have had rougher hands. I have smithed for over 30 years and regularly saw cut and saw logs both for firewood and for lumber on my portable mill. I can truthfully say that I don't remember the last blister I got because both trades, if performed regularly, leave one's hands sufficiently calloused to ward off blisters. That said, I think the absolute worst trade on the hands is masonry. Back in another lifetime I was a contractor and occasionally did some cement block and brick work. The lime in the cement coupled with the constant exposure to water and the courseness of the material always left my hands like course sandpaper. If any tradesman has rougher hands than a mason I can't imagine which trade that would be! By the way, historically the quote "the touch of a blacksmith" usually refers to the way one does something rather than the physical condition of his hands. It is used as one would use the more common phrase, "the Midas touch". It might be used as an opposite to something like "the touch of a jeweler" for example when working on an engine.
  20. The best material for lining the bottom of a forge to prevent burnout is fire clay, usually available at a masonry supply dealer. Portland and other cements are apt to absorb water and can explode when the water is converted to steam. Fire clay is one of the base materials for manufacturing high temperature fire brick, crucibles, and refractory. It is obtained in a powdered form like regular cement and will last for years in a forge. As a safety note about concrete, never drop hot iron on a cement floor, especially if it is damp. Instead, keep a piece of steel off to the side to lay pieces on to cool. If you have ever seen concrete shrapnel from hot iron (I have), you won't soon forget it!
  21. A lot of folks are content with an anvil that sits on a stump with blocks or staples to keep it from falling off but from my own experience, I like an anvil that is attached like it is part of the stump. I also like the stump planted several feet in the ground. Sooner or later someone will be striking for you and it will bounce like a ball if it isn't really secure. There are many useful parts on an anvil besides the face and as you gain experience and tackle more complicated work, you may find yourself using the sides almost as much as the top or drawing down on the horn. One good way to attach an anvil to a round stump is to bore a hole center of the stump and 8-10" below the base of the anvil and place a substantial rod through the hole so it extends a couple inches beyond the stump on either side. Make two straps out of 3/8" or larger flat stock that are about about 1-2" longer than the stump is across. These will sit over the feet on each end of the anvil. Slip two eye bolts over the rod in the center of your stump and extend the threaded parts through the holes in the straps. Each side will look like a V originating at the center rod. In my early career, I had this set up and the anvil was rock solid. If noise is a problem-and it shouldn't be with this secure method of fastening-cut an old piece of inner tube to sit between the anvil and the stump before you tighten it down. Staples work but they tend to loosen when you are striking the opposite end of the anvil. Sorry I no longer have a photo of this setup but if it isn't clear I'll try to explain further.
  22. For the size logs you have you will probably want to start with at least 1" round stock. Flat stock will twist and be useless. I have a pair of skidding tongs that I bought for handling some dead Tamarack on my property after several dismal attempts to forge a pair that would take the strain. For actual skidding, I prefer just wrapping a chain with a slip hook around the log but tongs are great for lifting and stacking the logs with a tractor bucket or like I do, loading on my portable mill. For stock sizes and capacities you can check out Peavey Manufacturing. They have been in business for a long time and have worked the bugs out of their products. They have photos and size charts at: http://www.peaveymfg.com/tongs.html When you start yarding logs out behind a tractor, they will catch on every stump and rock and there will be some very heavy strain put on the tongs. They need to be rugged and I don't think mild steel is the right material
  23. It doesn't really get interesting until you add some gasoline and propane to the mix. And don't forget to add lots of distance to the formula!
  24. If you have a copy of Jack Andrew's book, "Edge of the Anvil", it is worth reading or reviewing the section on shop layout. I don't necessarily agree with using a tipi for a smithy (especially up here near the Canadian border) but he spent a lot of time analyzing the relationships between the basic blacksmithing tools-forge, anvil, vise, etc. If your anvil is to be permanently set in one location, do yourself a favor and measure your pace before planting it. It's nice to step off from the forge and end with your feet correctly planted at the anvil ready to work without having to take a couple half steps to get ready while the iron cools. Tool benches and racks should be within easy reach of the forge and anvil. I have one fixed anvil and a second that can be dragged around to suit the work, and actually, a third smaller anvil that is placed on the forge for welding light material so it doesn't cool. A blacksmith career can encompass an enormous variety of tasks so try to be somewhat flexible in your layout. My shop is laid out with a hot work (forging) area, a cold work area where I have other vises, Hossfeld and Diacro benders, slip rolls, shears, etc., an area which is left open to work on larger projects or to pull a vehicle in for repairs, and an area for machine tools. All except the forge area have been moved many times. Make a list of what you have now and what you realistically might purchase in the reasonable future. If a second power hammer is a possibility, that is best considered now. Lastly, accept the fact that no matter how much planning you do, your layout will continuously evolve as you gain/lose tools or your type of work changes. My goal 30 years ago was to have every tool set up so I could just walk over and use it without having to get it off a shelf or out from under a bench. It hasn't happened!
  25. My main anvil (pictured) sits on a piece of Rock Maple 12" x 16" x 7' tall, buried to a working height. The angle iron hold downs allow for adding blocks of wood under the anvil for taller smiths or if the post settles. In 20 years it hasn't.
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